{ match reports }
An independent supporters' website dedicated to Mansfield Town FC
Season 03/04 Stagsnet Match Report
Nationwide League Division 3
Northampton Town  
0 - 3
 Mansfield Town
 Christie 5, Lawrence pen 65, Disley 80.
Attendance: 5,019 (1160 from Mansfield)
Date: 29th November 2003

Martin Shaw & dad & Jeff Barnes at Sixfields

Mansfield Town mauled Northampton Town at Sixfields this afternoon with a strong performance. The Cobblers were feeble, and didn’t get a single shot on target in the 90 minutes while the super Stags could easily have run out more than 3-0 winners. The Stags were excellent in the first 25 minutes of the first half and the last half an hour of the second half. Lee Williamson produced a masterclass in midfield covering every blade of grass and dominating the match.

The Stags made two changes from the side that started against Huddersfield with Christie replacing Larkin as expected, and rather more surprisingly Disley replacing Corden on the left. The home side, managed by former Stag Colin Calderwood, included the dangerous Josh Lowe and Martin Smith.

In front of a large away following, Mansfield made a strong start and after 2 minutes Disley nearly got on the end of a Lawrence cross. On 5 minutes, the Stags were ahead. A mistake by former Forest full-back Des Lyttle was picked up by Christie, who strode forward, cut in from the right, and his left foot shot was deflected between the keeper and the right hand post. It was a great start but slightly lucky as Christie’s shot may not have gone in without the deflection.

On 10 minutes, a great move of one touch passing between Lawrence and Christie set up Williamson who shot wide of the right post. Four minutes later, Northampton had their first attack with a cross from the right; there was a vain shout for a handball which was not given. A minute later the home side created a chance but a header was wide from a left wing cross.

On 18 minutes, Mendes had a goal-bound shot which was brilliantly blocked by the home defence. Five minutes later Mendes sped down the right and cut the ball back for Disley who just failed to make contact and turn the ball home. On 24 minutes Christie broke clear and created a great chance for himself but with the keeper out of his goal, Christie could only shoot tamely into his arms, when a lob would probably have produced a goal.

Around the half-hour mark, the Cobblers had a period of pressure with a couple of corners but no danger created. On 34 minutes, Williamson sent a free-kick which Day met with a near post diving header, but it lacked power and was easily saved. Six minutes later Northampton went close. Following a free kick on the left after Day had been penalised for a foul (a rare bad decision from a good referee) a cross was whipped in and a Stags defender headed just past his own post to concede a corner, which came to nothing.

At half time we reflected that the home side were poor in the final third, whilst the Stags looked good going forward and solid at the back, with Williamson outstanding all over the pitch. He had just blotted his copybook on one occasion when he was late on a challenge to give away a foul, which sparked a small brawl, but the referee was on hand to calm it down expertly and with the minimum of fuss.

Half time 0-1

The second half began scrappily, but the away fans did their best to create a fine atmosphere with a prolonged chant of “Yellows”. On 53 minutes, Christie broke down the right but his cut back was well-saved by the keeper. Two minutes later, Christie had a shot which was over the bar, when Disley was better placed to his left. Just a minute later, a fine cross from Lawrence was well-saved by the keeper.

On 65 minutes the Stags got the second goal they needed and deserved. Mendes wriggled his way in to the area and was clearly tripped. There were no protests and Lawrence stepped up to crash the ball to the keeper’s left, sending the keeper the wrong way. The Stags players and fans celebrated this important goal.

Before the game restarted, Curle replaced Christie with MacKenzie to play five in midfield. On 72 minutes, Mendes played a great ball down the left touchline with the outside of his right foot setting Disley free. Disley strode forward, looked up but failed to find Lawrence, who was free on the penalty spot. At this stage the Stags were content to soak up pressure which never came to anything, and attack on the break.

On 76 minutes, Williamson dribbled forward superbly but his weak shot was saved to the keeper’s left. Four minutes later it was 3-0 with a cracking goal. Williamson showed great footwork on the right and crossed for Disley who slid the ball into the net. He celebrated in front of the Stags fans and victory was assured.

It was now a question of how many and just two minutes later, with the Stags on the rampage, Lawrence pulled a ball across for MacKenzie to have a free shot which he struck sweetly but just wide of the left post.

Larkin then replaced the excellent Mendes and soon afterwards with the Stags still running riot, Lawrence crossed for Curtis to head inches over. There was just one minute of stoppage time and the Stags players were soon celebrating in front of the adoring Stags fans.

This was a fine performance against a team that was poor on the day, but these are the games that a promotion-seeking team needs to win comprehensively. The Stags are definitely looking the part and the clean sheet was also particularly welcome. Lee Williamson was simply outstanding all afternoon: defensively superb and driving the team forward impressively as well as often winning the ball when he had no right to. He looks physically strong, perhaps stronger than he did in the last two seasons and seems to be starting to get his temperament more under control without losing his competitive edge. Manager Curle may well be responsible for this. Competition for places is keeping the players honest and striving to play well in every game in order to keep their place. As an example, Christie and Disley came in today after doing well as subs last week, and both scored. The bench continues to look strong and with MacKenzie, Corden, Dimech and Larkin all looking for a chance, the immediate future looks rosy. The Stags now head to Tony Adams’ Wycombe for a live TV clash and confidence will be high that the higher division side can be beaten, to earn the possibility of a juicy third round tie.
Man of Match: Lee Williamson

Report by: Martin Shaw & dad & Jeff Barnes at Sixfields

Line Up:
Pilkington 7 Good handling from crosses. No saves to make.
Hassell 7 Never troubled, good distribution.
Day 8 Won everything in the air.
Artell 7 Partnership with Day looks rock solid. Good performance.
Vaughan 7 Never troubled. Comfortable.
Lawrence 6 Not his best performance. Took penalty well.
Curtis 8 Competed really well as always and got forward well on occasions.
Williamson 9 Read the game superbly. Won the ball consistently at the back and pushed the team forward brilliantly.
Disley 7 Did the job asked of him in place of Corden and was rewarded with a fine goal.
Christie 7 Slightly lucky with the goal, competed well and was a handful for the defence.
Mendes 8 Very lively and constantly outpaced the home defence on the counter-attack.
Sub Line Up:
MacKenzie (for Christie, 66) 6 Went close with a shot, but caught in possession once.
Larkin (for Mendes, 82) - Looked ok.
Subs not used: JWhite, Dimech, Corden.
Opposition Line Up:
Harper, Lincoln, Lyttle,Sadler, Sampson, Willmott, Hargreaves, Low, Trollope, Smith, Walker. Subs: Richards for Trollope (59), Asamoah for Lincoln (75), Chambers for Lyttle (79). Subs not used: Thompson, Harsley.

Rob Styles (Hampshire) 8 Handled the game very well. No bookings. A quiet word sufficed when some others would have brandished a card. Communicated well with the players.

Season 03/04 Reports